There are very few spaces in Brighton that we don’t have to share with a lot of other people. The tourists have claimed the seafront, the Lanes and the Pavilion Gardens, while most Brightonians will have their little places to escape to if the seaside summer hedonism gets too much, some won’t think to visit one of the city’s best kept urban secrets…

racehill orchard brighton

Hidden from plain sight in the middle of an inner-city Brighton housing estate are three acres of lush, wild landscape overlooking the city and the sea. This little heavenly sanctuary is known as the Whitehawk Nature Reserve. It’s also home to a secret city orchard with a distant sea view.

racehill orchard brighton

There are two ways to get to it; from Wilson Avenue near the recycling centre or Swanborough Drive  via a little path that runs next to the Racehill allotments. From the latter, follow the path a little way up until you see a path to your right. Follow this along and you’ll soon emerge into the nature reserve, the sounds of the city a million miles away in the distance…

The incredible Racehill Community Orchard has a collection of 200 fruit trees which give the city around three tonnes of fruit a year. Apparently fruit trees have grown on Whitehawk Hill for up to 5,500 years. In 1929, archaeologists found traces of pear tree in samples of ancient charcoal excavated from a nearby ridge. Today, there are apples, pears, plums, a few cherries and some more unusual trees like figs.

It’s fun to walk around and see what fruit you can spot. There are also lots of  little benches and chairs scattered around to sit and ponder the view, enjoy a picnic, some wine and read your book.

racehill orchard brighton

Read more about the Racehill Community Orchard and discover other hidden city gems in my book, Secret Brighton.

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